The saints are fascinating! Colorful, dynamic, charismatic, different in time, place, culture, and temperament, but truly inspiring, appealing and worthy of imitation in all times and places.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives two poignant reasons why we should venerate, honor and trust in the presence of the saints. Remember that the Church is a family with three different dimensions: the Church Suffering, the souls in Purgatory; the Church Militant, the soldiers of Christ fighting for Christ and salvation (those living—us); and finally, the Church Triumphant, the saints in Heaven. Even though physically dead, in spirit the saints in Heaven are more alive than ever—the Church Triumphant, the Communion of saints.
The two specific ways in which the saints can help us are the following: 1) The power of intercession; 2) The splendid example that they have left us to imitate and emulate. They indeed are our glorious Friends in Heaven.
INTERCESSION. They can pray for us. Most especially they pray fervently for us, for our conversion, sanctification and eternal salvation, when we think about them and especially talk to them—that is to say, pray to them. Their prayers are powerful because they are God’s closest Friends in Heaven, and always will be, without any change.
IMITATION/EMULATION. In life we all need models, heroes, examples to follow, to encourage us and for us to imitate—especially this is the case in the realm of virtue and holiness.
SAINTS ARE DIFFERENT BUT ALIKE. The saints all differ in the time they lived, the culture they assumed, their intellectual acumen, as well as their character and temperament. However, the saints have a common ground that indeed is universal in all times and places. The common thread that unites all saints is quite simply their love for Jesus, the Saint of all saints, Jesus who indeed became their Best Friend on earth, their WAY, TRUTH, AND LIFE!
UNIVERSAL CALL TO HOLINESS. The saints are in heaven but are given by God the power to work on earth in our lives. If we call upon them they hear our prayers and present our prayers before the throne of God, who hears our prayers and helps us. An unknown fact among the immense majority of believers is what is found in Chapter V of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church titled “The Universal call to holiness.” In Lumen Gentium, considered the most important Dogmatic Constitution from the Second Vatican Council, the fifth Chapter insists that holiness, becoming a saint is a universal calling. All of us and each one of us individually are called to become saints, and great saints.
The following are several Biblical passages, as well as what some of the saints have said on the universal call to holiness. Once again, it is not optional that of becoming a saint—rather it is obligatory! If you like it expressed grammatically, it is not conditional, but an imperative! It must be done! Not just whimsical or wishful thinking, but an imperious command!
FIRST OF ALL: WHAT THE BIBLE—THE WORD OF GOD TELLS US. JESUS SAYS…
1. “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”
2. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, they will be satisfied.”
3. Saint Paul to the Thessalonians: “This is the will of your Heavenly Father, your sanctification.”
SECOND: WHAT HAVE THE SAINTS SAID ABOUT THE CALL TO HOLINESS…
1. SAINT MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA. She was known to have said to young women, “If you want to become a sister, you have to become a saint; if not, do not come to be a Missionary of Charity.” To all, Saint Mother Teresa asserted emphatically: “Holiness (becoming a saint) is not the privilege of the few, but is the duty of all.”
2. LEO BLOY (Famous French Catholic Writer) said: “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.”
3. ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA DE BALAGUER. This modern saint, the founder of Opus Dei, insisted to all of the members of Opus Dei—The Work of God that all should work upon holiness according to their own state of life: plumber, teacher, gardener, shoe shiner, married man or woman, nun, priest, Bishop—all are called to become saints according to their state or vocation in life. Saint Josemaria was known to have stated: “The biggest crisis in the world is the lack of saints.”
4. SAINT DOMINIC SAVIO AND SAINT JOHN BOSCO. The Patron of youth, Saint Dominic Savio, who died at age 14, met Saint John Bosco and asked the saintly priest for a special grace. Savio said to Bosco: “I am the cloth and you are the tailor; now make of me a saint.” May we all place our lives in hands of the saints, the true friends of God, and beg them to pray for us so that we can become the saints that God has destined for us from all eternity.
5. SAINT FRANCES DE SALES: INTRODUCTION TO THE DEVOUT LIFE. The meek, kind and gentle Doctor of the Church, Saint Frances de Sales, penned a literary-spiritual classic: Introduction to the Devout Life. The entirety of this universal Literary classic are chapters with practical steps teaching us decisions and actions we should undertake to arrive at living out heroic holiness—becoming the saint that God wills for us.
6. SERVANT OF GOD LUCIA DE LOS SANTOS (SEER OF FATIMA). On the day of her First Holy Communion, as a little Shepherd girl receiving the Eucharistic Lord Jesus for the first time, Lucia begged for a specific grace: “Lord Jesus, make me a saint!” How true that became.
7. BLESSED CARLOS ACUTIS: Like Savio, a teenage saint, Carlos made a website on Eucharistic miracles and focused his life on becoming a saint. Blessed Carlos asserted: “The quickest path to holiness is the Holy Eucharist.” Let us take this teenage saint’s advice!
8. SAINT JOSE LUIS SANCHEZ DEL RIO. Another young saint died as a martyr in the Cristero Revolution in Mexico after being tortured, stabbed and finally shot. He became a saint while being sustained by the Eucharist. When in prison, his aunt smuggled him the Holy Eucharist. The modern movie Mirando al Cielo presents the 14 year old saint as longing to die a martyr. Why? He said he ardently yearned to go to heaven to be with God forever. He said that it was easy! Suffer for a short time, die as a martyr, and Heaven is yours! A saint with the Lord forever!
9. THE CURE OF ARS AND THE DEVIL. The Cure of Ars spent most of his life as a priest in the out of the way town of Ars, imprisoning himself in the confessional—from 13-18 hours a day, chilled to the bone in the winter and suffering stifling heat in the summer. At the end of his life, the devil appeared and stated that if there were another five men like the Cure of Ars, the devil’s kingdom would be destroyed.
10. OUR LADY AND HOLINESS. The saints all agree that holiness is a deep relationship with Jesus the Lord, but they also agree, in the words of Saint Luis de Montfort, that “Mary is the quickest, easiest and shortest pathway to holiness”… our shortcut to heaven!
In conclusion, my friends in Jesus, Mary, the angels and the saints, let us not put it off any longer! Let us all strive to become the saint that God has called us to become. Remember the words of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Holiness (to become a saint) is not the privilege of a few, but the duty of all.” Let us all work hard now, collaborate with God’s grace now, and with the help of Mary, the full of grace, we can rest forever in Heaven with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Mary, the angels and the saints!